March 2, 2017

Arts Council England awards £498,555 Ambition for Excellence grant to the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries talent and diversity development programme

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“Gaining this opportunity was like someone throwing me a life raft; it was the step on the ladder that  I was looking for and I think as many other people as possible should also be allowed that experience”. Samantha Gillingham, Creative Bursaries placement with Activate Performing Arts.

The Creative Bursaries is a nationwide talent and diversity development programme, supporting arts organisations from across the UK to build their capacity for outstanding artistic achievement and expand their approach to culturally diverse recruitment and workforce development.

Working with new delivery partners including the British Council, the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2017-2019 will create a powerful peer network of 40 organisations and 40 talented recent graduates from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, investing in their creative and leadership potential through new national and international training and residency opportunities. New activity supported by Ambition for Excellence funding will also increase the sustainability of the programme and extend the impact for the sector through intensive evaluation and sharing of what is learnt.

Ambition for Excellence is a strategic programme run by Arts Council England, aimed at stimulating ambition and supporting talent and excellence across the arts sector in England. The fund aims to realise significant impact on the growth of an ambitious, international-facing arts infrastructure. 80% of placements on the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2017-2019 programme will be awarded outside of London, ensuring that young people and organisations nationally can thrive.  Alongside paid year-long placements, a development programme for all participants will ground their on-the-job experience with valuable training, seeding a strong peer network and legacy for the programme.

A new partnership with the British Council will deliver an international strand for the first time, including 12 international residencies for selected placements and host organisations, and an international training trip for all 40 placements. Given the changes that the UK is experiencing in its global context, it is crucial that young people entering the arts have the opportunity to develop first-hand insights into cross-cultural working.

Jerwood Arts is also pleased to announce a new partnership with PRS Foundation, building on PRS Foundation’s learning from its successful New Music Plus programme which ran between 2009 and 2014. The organisations will work together to create two new entry-level roles in arts organisations aimed at young people beginning careers as producers in new music.

Alongside funding from Arts Council England and PRS Foundation, Jerwood Arts will continue to fund the programme, and is grateful for the significant continuing support of Garfield Weston Foundation. New support is welcomed from CHK Charities Limited. Thanks to these supporters, 100% of the Ambition for Excellence grant will directly support participating organisations and participating graduates.

Shonagh Manson, Director, Jerwood Arts and Kate Danielson, Director, Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries said:

“As an organisation supporting the development of artistic talent and ideas, we are mindful of the politics and realities of who gets access and to what in the arts, and of how these factors will influence the future of our artistic and cultural lives. If talent and potential is truly to be realised then the diversity of who is entering the sector must be addressed; achieving excellence and enabling access go hand in hand.”

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Fair access to opportunities is one of the most urgent issues facing the arts today. It is excellent that we have been able to fund Jerwood Arts, in whose expert hands this project will have the best possible impact. By engaging participants in strong principles of inclusion they will go on to open doors for others, and create lasting and meaningful change in the sector.”

To date, the Creative Bursaries programme has worked with 75 of the UK’s best arts producers across art forms to kick-start the careers of 84 talented young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds; in Truro, Wakefield, Belfast, Leeds, London, Margate, Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow and beyond. Critically, it allows organisations to develop new year-long job roles which close skills gaps in their greatest areas of need. The programme has raised the profile of the debate around diversity, with press coverage in Arts Professional, Arts Industry Magazine (AI) and The Stage and has directly resulted in job creation, with 60% of placements being extended and 32 % of roles being made permanent, or leading to longer term employment relationships, across both editions

The initiative was included as a case study in DCMS’ Culture White Paper and referred to as exemplary in Arts Council England’s commissioned report  Analysis of Theatre in England.

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2017-2019 will be launched later in the year. Please note that participating organisations will be sought by invitation. All placements will be publicly advertised from Autumn 2017.


Dowbload the Press Release: Arts Council England Awards Ambition For Excellence Funding to Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries 2017-19 programme is designed and managed by Jerwood Arts in partnership with the British Council. It has been made possible through the combined support of Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, Jerwood Charitable Foundation, CHK Charities Limited and PRS Foundation. 

Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Training Programme. Image: Outroslide Photography